It's nice not to have to go into an office for 40 hours every week, but the work-from-anywhere lifestyle has its drawbacks. Sure, you never have to change out of your pajamas, but the lack of human contact provides a quick path to insanity. The Bay Area has plenty of coffee shops, but despite all the Macbooks you'll see open at your local purveyor of Blue Bottle, they aren't always the best places to work. And sometimes, you just want to have a conversation with a co-worker, maybe to bounce ideas off of them, maybe to vent about a problem, maybe just to complain about the weather.
Increasingly, subscription-based shared workspaces are popping up around the Bay Area, offering freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other office-less nomads a place to plug in their laptops and chat with their fellow members. What sets Hayes Valley's Makeshift Society apart from other shared workspaces is its emphasis on encouraging creative work and collaboration.
Nestled on Gough Street between Oak and Fell, Makeshift Society is a cozy space. Members can channel their inner feline and curl up in the cushioned window seats, enjoy the interactivity of the long table at the front, meet in the private conference room, or quietly work on the couches or at one of the smaller tables. If you're a dog owner, you can even bring your well behaved pooch. But Makeshift offers more than just a place to work; a lending library of books on art and design fill the shelves. Bikes are available for members running local errands. A rotating pop-up shop highlights the wares of various local makers (and is open to the public.) And there is a full slate of lectures, lunches, and mixers designed to help you get to know your coworkers.
"It's for people who are craving that camaraderie that you don't get at a coffee shop," says team member Christina Bohn. Bohn says that Makeshift attracts a variety of professionals, including graphic designers, interior designers, visual artists, entrepreneurs, programmers, and frequently members will collaborate on projects. People with specific expertise will hold office hours to answer questions about everything from design to how to license your artwork. Members at all levels also get access to the Makeshift Society's Google Group, where members can throw out questions to the entire membership, post job listings, or just promote themselves and their latest works. Even if members opt not to come into the "office," they can still enjoy the resources that come with being part of a diverse group of people with a diverse knowledge base.
Even if you aren't a member of the Makeshift Society, you can enjoy much of what Makeshift has to offer. You can peruse the pop-up shop, attend office hours, or take their classes—ranging from crafty crash courses on knitting and collage to business-focused classes on managing your finances and writing snazzy copy. If you have a special project in mind, you can also apply for three months of free access through Makeshift's residency program. Last quarter, Makeshift offered a residency to Hunter Franks, who used it to launch the SF Postcard Project, in which he asks residents of neighborhoods like Bayview and the Tenderloin to write postcards about the things they love about their neighborhoods and then mails them to random occupants of the city.
Supporting memberships to the Makeshift Society start at $60 per year and grant members the Makeshift newsletter, access to the directory and Google Group, 15% off sponsored courses and events. If you'd like to work at the Makeshift space on a regular basis, access memberships start at $90 per month for one day a week and top out at $350 per month for fives days a week. Makeshift also offers salon memberships and day pass options. Be sure to check out the event schedule for upcoming classes and events, many of which are open to the public.